Humor Spotlight: Detroit Airport (DTW)


I recently had a layover in the Detroit Airport (DTW) and was surprised at how nice it was–it’s no wonder it was named the best large U.S. airport in customer satisfaction by J.D. Power & Associates in 2010.  I’ve seen a fair share of airports, but Detroit has been the first that goes above and beyond to make your inter-flight experience more enjoyable.

The most notable humor examples are:

  • A Psychidelic Walkway – As in most large airports, there is a long walkway complete with moving sidewalks that take you from concourse to concourse. But unlike other plane hangouts, the walkway at Detroit Airport also doubles as a lightshow with sounds and fun colors–perfect to help you calm down when you’re running from one gate to another after the fifth gate change.
  • A Fountain – Also in Concourse A is one of those “water show” fountains that sprays water in various directions and on different timings.  Even though it’s not recommended to try to drink from this fountain, it is relaxing and a mindless distraction as you hear the news your flight is delayed an hour.
  • Chirping Birds – Even though it’s not intentional (and somewhat of a health hazard), Concourse A also has birds flying around from tree to tree. There’s something relaxing about getting off an early morning flight and hearing the sound of nature as you scuttle to your next plane.

Here’s a brief video montage of some of the humorous aspects of DTW:

Why the Humor Works

The Detroit Airport is a great example of humor for two main reasons: it helps reduce stress in the high-stress environment of travel and it’s unobtrusive.

The nature sounds, water fountain and lightshow are all effective in helping you briefly forget about many of the challenges with air travel. It may not make your flight takeoff on time, but it can ease your stay while you wait.  The humor is also unobtrusive and not forced on you. If you’re not in the mood to be lightened up, you can ignore the subtle joys of the airport (of course if you’re not in the mood to be lightened up, you need it the most).

So if you ever find yourself in the Detroit Airport, make sure you stop by Concourse A for a little stress relief.

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